With the surge of interest in EVs and the enduring popularity of SUVs and crossovers it’s little wonder all-electric models like the Audi Q4 E-Tron perfectly nail what buyers want. Fitting in below the bigger and more luxurious E-Tron, the Q4 E-Tron is Audi’s twist the shared electric platform used by relatives like the ID.4, Skoda Enyaq and Cupra Born. Audi’s job is to push this tech into the premium end of the market, where it faces cars like the Volvo XC40 Recharge and Mercedes-Benz EQA. As such it’s got the image and – in the Quattro versions – the performance to compete but the VW, Skoda and Cupra variations on the theme arguably offer more for your money for essentially the same car.
“For what you’re getting it also looks costly compared with the talented Korean duo of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6”
While the on the road price doesn’t really reflect the way most people buy cars these days it shows just how much more expensive the Q4 E-Tron is when compared with the closely related VW ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq. Comparing models with the same power output and battery size a mid-level Q4 40 E-Tron is about £5,000 more like-for-like, the price gap looking less dramatic on monthly finance deals but still enough to make a difference. For what you’re getting it also looks costly compared with the talented Korean duo of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, both of which hammer the Audi on value, performance and range and even onboard tech. It’s a more favourable comparison with the premium models the Q4 would prefer to be considered against, like the Volvo XC40 Recharge or Mercedes EQA. But the Volvo has more power and the Mercedes feels better built, meaning that usually desirable Audi badge is having to work harder than usual to justify its premium standing.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Audi Q4 e-tron
“Experience of related models from VW and Skoda suggest some of the tech you interact with has had issues”
The technology under the Q4 E-Tron is all new but experience of related models from VW and Skoda suggest some of the tech you interact with has had wobbles, which is an issue when you’re dependent on a screen for most of your interactions with the car. We didn’t have any issues in the week and 500-odd miles we covered but, for those nervous about embracing new tech, the three-year warranty doesn’t look as generous as the five years offered by the Hyundai IONIQ 5 or the seven of the Kia EV6.
Expert rating: 3/5
Safety for a Audi Q4 e-tron
“Our top-spec test car got all the additional, optional kit, including adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts your speed”
The Q4 E-Tron is a high-tech car and comes with all the safety systems you’d expect as standard, including lane departure warning, rear parking sensors and Audi ‘Pre-sense’ that shouts a warning and then applies the brakes if it thinks you haven’t reacted to a pedestrian, cyclist or other hazard in your path. Unfortunately it’s a bit over-sensitive and you quickly zone out to the constant squawks, which is somewhat counter-productive. Our top-spec test car got all the additional, optional kit, including adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts your speed according to the posted limit on the signs. It works well in most situations but can lock you into lower speeds on ‘smart’ motorways if the operators forget to show a national speed limit sign at the end of a temporary limit.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the Audi Q4 e-tron
“The angular, futuristic looking interior is very Audi in its style but not an especially soothing environment in which to spend time”
The Q4 E-Tron makes the most of the space freed up by the electric platform beneath and means those in the back have plenty of leg- and headroom while the flat floor even makes the centre seat more viable than most. The driving position has tons of adjustment so you should be able to get comfortable whatever your physical shape, though the visibility isn’t all that great and the Q4 feels intimidatingly large on narrow streets and in car parks. The angular, futuristic looking interior is very Audi in its style but not an especially soothing environment in which to spend time – an Enyaq is a much more relaxing place to be, feels just as well made inside and is more practical so would get our vote here.
With the choice of three wheel sizes and option of Comfort, Sport or adjustable active suspension dependent on which trim you go for there are some differences in how comfortable your Q4 E-Tron will be on the road. Our test car had the 20-inch wheels and Sport suspension standard from S Line up and, frankly, it felt a bit harsh around town so we’d be interested to try the standard model with the softer suspension or – going the other way – the adjustable system standard on the top-of-the-range version and a cost option on others.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Audi Q4 e-tron
“You can upgrade further with a head-up display with neat, augmented reality direction arrows in your line of sight so you never miss a turn”
The Q4 E-Tron is an expensive car but even the entry-level Sport version comes with all the tech you’d want, including sophisticated (and very slick) MMI Navigation Plus on the central 10.1-inch screen that can help plan charging stops along the way as part of its connected features, not to mention Google-enabled satellite imaging. You can also connect your phone via USB or wirelessly to use your apps, though we found the CarPlay connection a little unstable at times. You can upgrade further with a head-up display with neat, augmented reality direction arrows in your line of sight so you never miss a turn. For all this tech we also appreciated the fact Audi has retained physical switches for heating and ventilation, which is a plus compared with its VW, Cupra and Skoda relatives and their insistence you do it through the screen. There are also many and various ways to make your Q4 E-Tron feel more luxurious (and expensive), though we’re not entirely convinced the quality of the plastics match those of other Audis at this price.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Audi Q4 e-tron
“Even with the bigger of the two battery options our 40 E-Tron test car was a long way off the promised 300+ miles range”
Audi buyers might reasonably expect a little more oomph than that offered by equivalent versions of the VW ID.4 or Skoda Enyaq, making the 204 horsepower of the mid-level Q4 40 E-Tron seem a little disappointing. It feels quick enough on the road but when similarly priced rivals like the IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6 offer 300 horsepower or more it’s on the back foot. There is a 50 E-Tron with 299 horsepower but this costs a lot more and the cars it faces, like the Volvo C40, Polestar 2 or even the Jaguar I-Pace, are all more like 400 horsepower. Whether this matters for more than bragging rights is a matter for debate but Audi is a ‘status’ brand and your Tesla-owning friends will spare no opportunity to point this shortfall out . Even with the bigger of the two battery options our 40 E-Tron test car was a long way off the promised 300+ miles range too, the reality on a winter’s day being closer to 200. For all the SUV looks it’s also worth noting that 35 E-Tron and 40 E-Tron models are only two-wheel drive as well and even some mild slush had our test car slithering about – if you want that trademark Audi all-wheel drive traction you’ll need the twin-motor 50 E-Tron Quattro version to keep moving in all conditions.